ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Qiana Canete had a match-high 17 kills but Northern Colorado outlasted UTA volleyball in four sets (25-23, 20-25, 23-25, 18-25) to conclude the first day of the Lobo Classic, hosted by the University of New Mexico at the Johnson Center.
UTA (5-3) opened the match with a first-set win but the Bears answered to claim the final three, finishing with a .250 hitting percentage. Northern Colorado (3-5) had five service aces and nine blocks, owning the advantage in kills 58-48.
The match wraps up the doubleheader for the Mavs, who suffered a three-set loss vs. New Mexico earlier in the day.
LEADING THE MAVS
Canete, a preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection, had 17 kills to lead the Maverick attack, hitting for a .205 percentage while adding 10 digs. Zhanelle Geathers had 16 kills and five digs, with Madison McConnell charting 11 kills and a team-leading four blocks. Freshman Cameryn Zahradnik had two kills and a career-high eight digs with Libbie Vickers totaling a team-leading 20 digs. Freshman Kailyn Gilbreath paced the club with 30 assists, with Tessa Harfield adding a kill and two blocks and the Mavs getting key contributions from Madison Helt and Ashlynn Ford.
UTA will wrap up its stay in Albuquerque with the finale of the Lobo Classic at 12:45 p.m. CT vs. Portland (6-1). Live stats are available at UTAMavs.com.
The first set opened the way it would continue, with the teams trading points. Qiana Canete gave UTA its second lead with her first kill, working off the assist from Kailyn Gilbreath. Canete and Madison McConnell stretched the lead to 5-2, with Zhanelle Geathers' kills breaking a 6-6 and an 8-8 tie. Canete broke the 9-9 tie with her kill and Northern Colorado rallied to take a two-point lead at 18-16 and 19-17. After the substitution of Madison Helt, the Mavs went on a roll powered by her serve, winning four straight points behind the sophomore to take a 21-19 lead. UTA stretched its lead to 23-20 after a UNC attacking error – its largest lead of the set – before UNC cut it to a 23-22 lead, with Coach J.T. Wenger taking a UTA timeout. Canete answered out of the break with a kill for a 24-22 lead and UTA finished it off for a 25-23 win.
A block from McConnell and Libbie Vickers gave UTA a 1-0 lead and the Mavs used kills from McConnell, Canete and Cameryn Zahradnik to build a 5-2 lead. Geathers stretched the lead to 7-4 but UNC stormed back to even the set at 8-8. Geathers helped UTA to a 10-8 lead and Zahradnik stretched the lead to 12-9 on the assist from Gilbreath. The Bears sustained a 13-10 run to take a 22-19 lead, finishing off the set for the 25-20 win.
The Mavs jumped out of the break strong to take a 4-0 lead, featuring a McConnell kill to start the scoring. UNC evened it up with a 7-3 run and saw the match tied at 10-10 and 11-11. A 4-0 run lifted the Mavs to a 15-11 lead but the Bears stormed back to even the game at 18-18 with a 7-3 run. Geathers gave the Mavs a 20-19 lead with a kill but UNC went on a 4-1 run to take a 23-21 lead. The Bears finished of the set win, 25-23, getting back-to-back kills from Kim Weissmann and Kourtney Lockey.
McConnell started the scoring in the fourth and the match rolled to 4-4 after Geathers kill. The Bears stretched their lead to 10-5 and 15-11 with a kill from McConnell cutting the UNC lead to 22-18. Geathers cut the lead to 23-18 with her 16th kill of the match. The Bears then finished off the set and match win for a 25-18 result.
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